Upgrade doesn't cater to competition swimming
Cessnock City Council's planned upgrade of Cessnock Pool appears to be a diversion to take attention away from the need for a new aquatic centre.
While the proposed splash pad and program pool will enhance the existing facility, they fall short of meeting the needs of the community. I have no doubt the fun area will be heavily used on fine sunny days on weekends and school holidays, giving hours of enjoyment to many.
For a price tag of over $1 million for equipment that will lie idle for six months of the year gives reason to question if this is money well-spent.
Cessnock needs a new aquatic centre that can cater for the needs of the community all year round. The facility we have now, which opened in 1935, is dated, non-compliant for competition swimming, lacks car parking space and is shut down for half the year.
The sport of swimming hasn't been mentioned at all in the proposed upgrade, which is disappointing from a swimming club perspective.
Councillors Fitzgibbon and Pynsent appear determined to keep our 1935 model pool which, contrary to what they say, does not meet community needs. Cr Fitzgibbon is quoted as saying they are "on the right track", but once again nothing for competition swimmers. She also says it would be a shame to lose "something really special," meaning of course, our pool. What is a shame is Cessnock Council not making definite plans for a modern facility that will give the swimmers in our area somewhere to advance the sport.
Cessnock has produced many fine swimmers in the past, swimmers who competed at state and national level, but those numbers of swimmers are not there any more. It was noticed at the primary school zone carnival in February large numbers of competitors being disqualified in their races indicating the problems in the sport.
When we look around Cessnock most sports are catered for having good facilities with swimming the exception. It is easy to think our civic leaders are either blind to what is there, or refuse to admit our young and not so young sportspeople need modern facilities to train.
There is more to a swimming pool than recreational use, yet Cessnock is left lagging in the first half of last century with what we have now. Swimming is the only sport where the competitors must pay an entry fee to the venue to participate in their races or to train, yet it is the most neglected sport in Cessnock.
Phil Murray, Cessnock
Too many people are drowning in Australia
We write on behalf of Royal Life Saving Society - Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia to urge readers to take the greatest of care in, on and around water.
Latest data reveals 276 people drowned across Australia over the past year, which is a 10% jump on the previous year. A significant number of these deaths happened in summer.
It is of great concern that 101 people drowned in inland waterways and there were 122 coastal drowning deaths, including 71 on beaches.
It is also of enormous concern that in the past 12 months, 584 people have been hospitalised as a result of non-fatal drowning incidents. Some of these people will sadly end up with irreversible brain damage.
We do not want to see tragedy taking place. It is vital readers supervise children at all times around water. We urge everybody to learn swimming and essential lifesaving skills including first aid and CPR.
We urge people to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags, and adopt a 'stop, look, plan' approach to water safety.
We know that risk-taking behaviour - often involving alcohol and drugs - is having a clear impact on drowning rates. Poor swimming skills are also a factor.
It is vital to wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing and using watercraft.
Too many people are drowning in Australian waters.
Taking simple steps will make all the difference. One practical step all readers can take is to visit our websites to obtain more hands on tips and information. Simply visit www.royallifesaving.com.au and www.sls.com.au .
Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia
Adam Weir, CEO, Surf Life Saving Australia
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